Event details




Wednesday 27th May 2020 

10.00am UK


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It is a widely-held ambition among architects to design their own home, but the motivations vary. For some it is a chance to pursue an architectural idea or technical innovation without compromise; for others it offers a a route to affordable accomodation, or the opportunity to live in the sort of space or location not offered by conventional developments.

Join us hear to from three architects who have recently fulfilled that ambition, to learn about the positives and the potential pitfalls of self-building.

Subjects covered include the search for a site, managing costs and finance, developing the design as both architect and client, and realising the vision.

Speakers include Matthew Barnett-Howland and Dido Milne on 'The Cork House’, Rhys Cannon (Gruff Architects) on 'Pitched Black’ and Patrick Michell on ‘Backwater’.



Chair: Chris Foges

Editor, Architecture Today

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Matthew Barnett-Howland

on 'The Cork House'

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Matthew is Director of Research and Development at CSK Architects in Eton, where he is responsible for developing a whole life approach to building design for the practice. He led on the research, design and construction of the multi-award winning Cork House, a pilot project for an innovative solid cork construction kit with outstanding whole life performance. In addition to previous experience at Buschow Henley in London and Jestico & Whiles in Prague, he has designed sets for Opera North and managed property developments. Matthew has over two decades of teaching experience, having taught diploma units at the Architectural Association, University of Cambridge and London Met, where he was awarded the RIBA Tutor Prize.


Dido Milne

on 'The Cork House'

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Dido is a director of CSK Architects, a new design studio relaunched in 2016 following the retirement of the founding partners of Corrigan + Soundy + Kilaiditi Architects. The practice has a longstanding record of specialising in bespoke, crafted buildings in sensitive historic locations, and as a partner and director, Dido has led major retrofit projects at Eton College, The Mall Galleries and the Howard-de-Walden Estate. Dido is interested in ‘Conservation’ in its most progressive form, where the inventive re-use and adaptation of existing buildings continues to be an intelligent and sustainable response to climate change and the pressure on resources. Dido was the chair of the RIBA South-East Awards in 2017 and sits on the local Design Review Panel.


Rhys Cannon

on 'Pitched Black'

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Rhys is Director at Gruff Architects, which he established in 2010. Its recent work includes a new Spanish restaurant, a timber temporary events space, and Pitched Black, Rhys' own family house in south London.


Patrick Michell

Patrick Michell on ‘Backwater’

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Patrick Michell founded Platform 5 Architects in 2006, setting it up as a collaborative studio based in East London. The practice takes a creative problem-solving approach to projects, developing clear strategies and translating them into human scale spaces that enrich people’s everyday lives.

Platform 5 has recently completed a mixed use development in Spitalfields for developers London Square and the charity Toynbee Hall which involved master planning an urban block and the knitting together of housing, commercial and community space around a new pocket of landscaped public space. Previous projects include the £40m campus for Southwark College, which won an AJ Retrofit award and was featured in the Architecture Foundation’s ‘New Architects 3’ book.

Alongside larger scale work, Patrick has always enjoyed the crafted nature of domestic architecture and has developed Backwater, a RIBA award winning house on the Norfolk Broads, as a prototype for an architectural holiday let business.

Patrick was also a finalist for the Young Architect of the Year in 2018 before gracefully entering middle age.



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